St Lucia Day is celebrated every December 13th in Sweden. It is a major tradition and it begins at 8 am. Around Sweden, at this time, there are processions in many churches and in state buildings. The lights are dimmed and soft singing begins and grows louder as they walk in the room.
Nowadays real candles have been replaced by battery-powered but the magic remains. The tradition is that Lucia wears light in her hair. When a child is chosen to be Lucia she wears a wreath with candles in her hair, each of her handmaidens carries a candle in their hand, which is traditionally lit from the candles on Lucia’s head.
The star boys and handmaidens, wear white gowns but the star boys traditionally have a cone on their head. However, this is not everywhere, the part that remains is the white gowns and the singing. There are some very typical songs that are song on this day but sometimes they will sing other songs.
Lucia is a special kind of saint in Swedish tradition because she carries light, and in the darkness of the winter months, she brings a little light to the darkness.
Swedish traditions have many clear references to light and darkness. Midsommer is where they celebrate the longest day of light in the year and Lucia day is a bearer of light.
Other traditions are eating gingersnaps and saffron-buns for breakfast before the processions. They are usually provided or for sale in the many convenience stores on this day.
Sweden is a widely secular country. So, it is interesting to see that Saint Lucia meshes both pagan and Christian traditions together.